Monday, 31 December 2012

New Plants and Pre-Filter Repacked

Happy new year peeps! I'm having another long weekend, until tomorrow to be exact. So I use the opportunity to clean and repack my filter. I found the filter is too dirty about a month ago but purposely leave it to let more waste into the grow bed in the hope that it will do good to the plant. I didn't see any significant result on that so today I decided to clean the filter.

I turned the pump off and drained the filter. It was pretty easy to clean the filter media, I just hosed it down and all the waste washed off. However the fine filter media is very easy to damage so I need to be gentle a bit while cleaning it. I didn't really pay much attention in cleaning the filter body/ bucket as to me it is not really important for it to be sparkling clean on the inside.

After cleaning the filters, I filled the bottom with the leftover pebbles. I didn't to this before so the coarse filter (I put coarse filter in first at the bottom) drooped over the upside down strainer letting the waste through it. Then, I put a layer of LECA just for the sake of it and repack the filter, coarse in first, then medium and followed by fine at the top. A bag of coral bits and LECA completed the the filter. Hopefully this time I do not need to clean the filter ever again.

Next, I sown some herbs seeds in the grow bed. This time I'm using the seeding pots to avoid the seeds from being washed off into the fish tank. The herbs are coriander, rosemary and parsley. I'm not sure about the coriander and rosemary, but parsley should do very well from my experience with the variant from my previous post. If this fail to grow then I will try tomato next.

This is the mint I planted a few weeks ago. The one in the grow bed is growing better then the one planted in the strawberry planter that I didn't use to plant strawberry.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

LECA @ Hydroton @ Hydrokorrel

It was a long Christmas holiday and finally we can visit my wife's parents in Kuala Lumpur. It has been 4 month since we last visited them. Of course I've been waiting for this moment to get the thing that I've longing for all this while, the Hydroton@LECA! I went to Selangor Green Lane to get it. It is actually just 20 minutes away from my in law's house. If you want to go there, find Jalan Sungai Buloh on the map or on satnav (GPS nav) if you have one. It will be on your right (u turn is required) if you are coming from Damansara towards Bandar Sungai Buloh. I went straight to Lot 19 (Wellgrow Horticultural) as a friend told me he got it there for RM70 per 50L bag. More about the Green Lane here:

I was in a hurry so I didn't spend much time there. I got the LECA for RM65 without haggling (I'm not that good at haggling anyway) so I bought 2 bags. Each bag weight about 20kg and for 50L, it is A LOT! and really cheap too as compared to the pebbles I used in the grow bed. 

It was imported from Holland so I think for RM65 per bag is really a bargain. DO NOT USE PEBBLES people as this this stuff from Holland is cheaper and waaaaayyyyy better!

Fresh from the bag, the LECA are covered in orange dust so it need to be wash until the water runs clear. It won't take very long, trust me. Much easier than washing the pebbles. They are very light and easy to manage.

I removed about 3/4 of the pebbles and let about 1-2 inches of pebbles at the bottom, about the same level of the water left when the syphon cut off. I left the some of the pebbles because I don't want to destroy the bacteria colony already in there, to give head start for the LECA. This 'upgrade' will set my system back a bit and I can't wait to see how long will it take for the system to mature - again.

One bag filled almost 3/4 of the grow bed. If you read my first post, the equivalent pebbles would already cost me more than RM130!

1/3 of the second bag filled the grow bed easily. So I still left with plenty of LECA for my next project. 

Some of the pebbles are used to make a stand in the fish tank for Tom (the turtle) to rest. He has been floating in the tank for more than 3 month, so now he is happy to lay his feet on a hard surface again.

Why LECA you may ask. Here is what I see/ learnt from this experience:
1) can be cheaper than pebbles
2) lighter (duh!)
3) easier to manage
4) retain moisture longer - those pebbles dried out almost immediately after removed from the bed
5) porous - more surface for bacteria to grow. Pebbles are just 'rock solid' internally.

1) It can float away, so beware.
2) heavy plant may be uprooted in strong wind/ stormy weather as the light aggregate can't give enough support - note: need to support plant in the future

What else I did....oh yes I added new member into the fish tank, two Kelah (Mahseer). Kelah is a really famous river fish in Malaysia and could fetch hundreds of ringgit per kg. It is a fighter and when grew in an aquarium/ tank is known to swim majestically, proud fish this. Got it for RM6.50 per fish at an aquarium shop near my in law's house. About two-finger size. Finally, I harvest the last of my pak choi. I'm gonna try something else next, given two weeks for my system to get back on track.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Third Month Update

My system reached 3 months old last Friday. And I made my first harvest of pak choi! The feeling is just unbelievable because I barely look after it, I just feed the fish. If I were to plant it conventional way, on the ground, I probably won't be able to harvest yet, or worse even grow it. I'm glad I didn't hesitate to start this project. Now I can't wait for the fish to grow to a palatable size!

As you can see there in the grow bed, I just planted the mint given by my mom and daun sup (daun saderi), a species of parsley. What you can see is what it has become after just a week in the bed. I planted it from root cutting leftover from our kitchen. I also planted spring onion but it is on the far right of the bed and refused to enter the frame, a bit shy maybe...and look at my kesum, finally no more white and dead young leaves. Amazing really.

How about the fish? they all are doing just fine in the tank. Getting fresh water from the rain everyday. In fact, ever since I started this project I changed the water only once on week one because it was too smelly. Never see any reason to change the water till date.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nutrients and Plants

I'm a bit busy (again) this week (but who doesn't?). Nothing special is done to my system during the weekend as I was away to pick up my kids at my mom's place. My mom gave me a bunch of mint to be planted and so I divided it into a few cuttings and one cutting goes into the grow bed. The others I planted in my special strawberry planter which I didn't use to plant strawberry.

Anyway the reason for this post is to share what I found on the internet. I've been googling about nutrient for plants as my pak choi has difficulty to get green leaf, despite healthy. Look what I found from a company that supplies fertilizers in the US (NACHURS): about NITROGEN

"Nitrogen serves as the source for the dark green color in the leaves of various crops. This is a result of a high concentration of chlorophyll.  Nitrogen combined with high concentrations of chlorophyll utilizes the sunlight as an energy source to carry out essential plant functions including nutrient uptake."

There you have it. Looks like my system is still not mature enough as the plants show difficulty to get greener leaf.

"Nitrogen deficiency shows up in the yellowing or chlorosis of the plant leaves.  The yellowing will start in the oldest leaves, and then will proceed to develop on younger leaves if the deficiency continues."

My system don't have the above problem, so the level of insufficiency of nitrogen could be low. A good guide for those into gardening and have no idea what is going on in their plants: Micronutrient Deficiencies

And the role of micronutrients.

Hope this'll help.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pak Choi Update

Look at this!

as compared to my post over 2 weeks ago  HERE. However, the leaves are not green despite looking healthy...what is wrong?

Oh and yes you might notice the kesum changed place. Actually the replanted ones are having the same problem as the first batch. So I replanted again. The seeds provided by my mom didn't germinate at all. Weird. So I'm gonna try again.